A GUEST PASSES AWAY IN A HOTEL ROOM – NOW WHAT?
Chances are that at some point a guest will pass away in a guest room and goes unnoticed for a couple of days or commits suicide causing a Biohazard situation. There are important and legally required steps you must follow before you can get the room back to generating revenue.
Critical First Steps
There are critical steps that must be done to mitigate further damage to a property and ensure the safety of other guests and staff. First and foremost, do not allow anyone to enter the room or try to clean it up unless hotel staff have been properly trained and in accordance with OSHA regulation standard 1910.1030. Exposure to bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious material (OPIM) can be very dangerous.
Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Next, call a biohazard cleanup company that has a Trauma Scene Waste Management Practitioners License (TSW) issued by the California Department of Public Health. A professional is trained to follow the California Health and Safety Code of the Medical Waste Management Act for the cleanup and disposal of regulated medical waste. Any company or person hired in California to clean up a situation that includes biohazards, such as blood and bodily fluids, must have a TSW to be able to properly and legally collect, transport and dispose of biohazard waste.
If a biohazard cleanup company does not have a TSW license or cannot provide it, DO NOT HIRE THEM or you will be exposing your property to liability.
The coroner will often seal the unit until next of kin can be notified and in some cases where extensive decomposition sets in, they may not release the room until a positive identification can be made, which adds time. Try to get a release as quickly as possible to help mitigate any further damage to the room or further inconvenience your other guests.
What you see is not what it is…
Upon death or traumatic accident, humans immediately begin to decompose and, as a result, their blood and other bodily fluids begin to drain. These substances ultimately end up on the floor, counter tops, the mattress, box spring and, in the case of a gunshot, on the walls, ceiling, mirror, bathtub, sinks, and toilet. Blood droplets, especially resulting from a gunshot, tend to cover everything in its path, which must be found and cleaned along with the visible pools of blood.
Unlike spilled coffee, biohazards must be properly decontaminated, cleaned, and removed to eliminate odors and ensure the safety of future guests and your staff. In addition to the bodily fluids, and depending on the length of time the body or bodily fluids are unaddressed, flies and maggots could hatch and contaminate the room beyond where the bodily fluids are as they begin to fly around after being contaminated with the bodily fluids. Hiring a licensed biohazard professional will not only prevent these risks, but will assure the entire room is cleaned properly and quickly, and get the affected room back into use in the shortest possible time.
What to expect from a Biohazard Professional
A reputable biohazard company will not be able to give a precise estimate without seeing the situation, but typically they can provide a cost range based on what is described. Many variables affect the cost of a biohazard cleanup in California: the method for which the guest takes his/her own life (gun shot, sharp object, overdose, natural causes); the manner and placement where the body came to rest; how long it was undiscovered; and the amount of biohazard waste that needs to be disposed of, all play into what the clean up will entail.
The biohazard professional will arrive discretely, inspect the room and determine the most appropriate plan for cleanup. A general rule of thumb is that soft surfaces are removed (upholstered items, beds & bedding, towels, robes, etc.) and hard surfaces can be decontaminated and cleaned (sealed wood furniture, walls, cleaning, mirror, bathroom fixtures, etc.)
With a suicide or undiscovered death, there is much more to address on the floor than the stain on the carpet. In almost all cases the blood seeps through the carpet and pad to the subfloor. The carpet, pad and any affected tack strips must be removed. The sub floor is then cleaned, decontaminated and sealed. If the floor is linoleum, tile, or wood, and the biohazards have not gotten underneath the flooring through cracks, grout or edges by the wall, it can be decontaminated and cleaned. If biohazards have gotten under the flooring or in cracks, the affected flooring will need to be removed to effectively clean, decontaminate, and seal the sub floor.
Remedying the unfortunate occurrence of a guest suicide or death can seem daunting, but by engaging the help of a licensed biohazard professional, a guest room will be cleaned thoroughly and safely, ensuring that future guests will enjoy their stay as if nothing had ever happened.
Alan Cohen is the CEO/Owner of Bio SoCal. For more information or to ask questions please go to BioSoCal.com or contact Alan directly at Alan@BioSoCal.com. Bio SoCal serves all Southern California counties including LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Diego.